Shayla Young says the Castle Knights have played better.
Moments after a 63-52 win over University in the Division II first round of the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships, the Knights have never been more clutch this winter.
After losing 12 of their first 13 games, including an 0-6 start to the OIA East schedule, the Knights are in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament. Young had the game of her young career, certainly not alone in her effort. The junior scored 18 points with five rebounds, four assists, six steals, one block and only one turnover in 31 minutes. She was 7-for-9 from the free-throw line, one of the few players on either side to shoot better than 50 percent there.
As a team, the Knights outshot University from the field at 35 percent (23-for-66) to 29 percent (16-for-56). The ILH’s fourth-place team outrebounded Castle 50-48, but committed 25 turnovers to Castle’s 20. The Knights hustled for 19 steals to stifle every potential comeback run by the OIA’s runner-up.
Briarra Nakihei had nine points, 11 boards, five assists and five steals. Tiari Hookano added 10 points, four dimes and four steals. Noelani Beard chipped in 10 points (5-for-9 from the field) and Sheri May Alvarado aded eight rebonds.
That’s massive, widespread production from Coach Joseph Lililo’s team, which is 6-15 overall, but well beyond the struggles of the early season. In fact, the Knights have won four of their last five games.
Now the biggest task of the season awaits. Top-seeded St. Francis is 23-0 and aiming for the first girls state title in school history.
“They box out and get rebounds,” Young said of the Saints, who haven’t played Castle yet this season. “Being underdogs more intensity to play. You never know what can happen until you try.”